We recently volunteered with B Local Colorado at Project Angel Heart in Denver. We love our Volunteer Time Off program because we get to know other local non-profits and join them in having a positive impact in our community.
PROJECT ANGEL HEART: WHO THEY ARE AND WHO THEY SERVE
Project Angel Heart prepares and delivers free medically tailored meals to people living with life-threatening illnesses every week. Starting in 1991, their first meal was served to 12 people suffering from HIV/AIDS. From there, they have grown to serve over 3,000 people in Denver and Colorado Springs each year.
They create gourmet meals by in-house chefs and nutritionists and then package and freeze them for delivery. Volunteers deliver weekly meals to a 640-square-mile region of metropolitan Denver and a 164-square-mile region in Colorado Springs. They also tailor meals for 65% of their clients, meeting dietary needs specific to their illnesses, treatments, religious beliefs, and allergies.
There are no age or income restrictions on the people they serve. The only criteria are a current diagnosis of a life-threatening illness such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, end-stage renal disease, congestive heart failure, multiple sclerosis, or another such illness. They must also have documented difficulty preparing or accessing healthy meals due.
WHAT’S THEIR IMPACT?
In 2018, Project Angel Heart served 385,000 meals to 3,000 people in Denver and Colorado Springs. Research shows that having access to the right food and nutrition leads to improved health outcomes for people with chronic illness and reduced medical costs.
- Medically tailored meals led to a 13% decrease in the rate of hospital readmissions.
- Total medical costs for people with CHF, COPD, and diabetes decreased by 24%, ranging in savings from $416/month to $736/month.
- Clients’ average hospital costs go down $111-555 per month once they begin to receive meals.
We believe in “the power of food as medicine” and that everyone deserves equal access to nutritious food, especially those who have life-threatening illnesses. We also believe that it’s personal and human interactions made every day that really make a positive impact on the world.
Going beyond the numbers, Project Angel Heart focuses on tailoring to the individual. We see this in their specialized diet plans, the portraits of their meal recipients throughout their facility, and the personal touches they include. Each meal is delivered in a bag that is decorated by volunteers, many of them children, and all showcase colorful artwork. And for their birthday, each person receives a personalized birthday cake. These small gestures help Project Angel Heart go the extra mile in serving people, something we also aim for with our own people.
OUR VOLUNTEERING EXPERIENCE
In last month’s B of Service day, we were joined by volunteers from Namasté Solar and Brightspark Learning to package breakfast bags for Project Angel Heart’s meal recipients who need extra nutrition because they are underweight. These bags contain healthy, high-fat foods to supplement the other meals clients receive. We packaged over 300 bags with hard-boiled eggs, granola, yogurt, peanut butter, milk, and oatmeal.
We also received a tour and information about the program, along with compelling stories about Project Angel Heart’s impact. One story that stood out to us was that of a single mother with three children who had breast cancer. She was receiving meals but was giving them to her children because she was so exhausted from her treatments. Project Angel Heart now provides meals for her whole family, and to other families in similar circumstances. This includes partners with disabilities, children under 18, adult children with disabilities, families, caregivers, and anyone else in their household who has a disability or difficulty preparing meals.
HOW YOU CAN GET INVOLVED
- Volunteer as an individual or as part of a group. They have several positions including kitchen assistants, meal delivery drivers, office assistants, gardening assistants, and event volunteers.
- Decorate bags. This is a great way to involve people of all ages. Pick them up, take them home or to work to decorate, and then bring them back within 2 weeks.
- Donate or host a fundraiser. You can donate produce, cereal, half-used paper, or money. Project Angel Heart is funded by individual donations, foundations, corporations, and public funds, so any amount helps. Each individual meal costs roughly $50, and a full day of meals can be sponsored with a $1,000 donation.
- Show your support by selecting Project Angel Heart as your beneficiary via Amazon Smile.